Francois Hesnault

Today we also wish a happy 55th birthday to former Grand Prix racer François Hesnault!

His appearance on the Grand Prix stage in 1984 was considered something of a surprise among many, for the Frenchman had achieved comparatively little in the junior categories.

Drafted into the Ligier team, he performed respectably enough over the course of his year with Les Bleus, earning a best finish of seventh at the Dutch Grand Prix – he occasionally proved a match for his more experienced (and equally mercurial) team-mate Andrea de Cesaris.

He switched to the Brabham team in 1985, but the move proved to be a poor career step. He retired from his first three races and then failed to make the qualifying cut at Monaco, before he was lucky to emerge with little more than a serious shaking when he had an almighty testing accident at Paul Ricard.

Hesnault's contribution to F1 is best remembered for his work pioneering the modern-era onboard cameraPerhaps unwisely, he made a one-off return in a third car run by the Renault team at the German Grand Prix, qualifying well down the order and retiring when his clutch packed it in. 

Interestingly, his appearance is notable for two things: his RE60 carried a prototype onboard camera (making it the first use of the technology that is now de rigueur in motorsport) and it was also the last time that three cars were entered by the same team.

That race proved to be his final Grand Prix appearance, and he retired from competitive racing shortly afterwards. Little has been seen or heard from him since, and he remains one of the sport’s rather more obscure characters.

[Images via Flickr and F1 Nostalgia]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.